Scotland Hub at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is lynchpin of Rhineland-Palatinate–Scotland relations
11 March 2021
PRESS RELEASE OF THE RHINELAND-PALATINATE MINISTRY OF SCIENCE, FURTHER EDUCATION, AND CULTURE
Rhineland-Palatinate and Scotland intend to intensify their collaboration in the fields of education, culture, higher education and research. Representatives of the two governments have signed a corresponding joint Declaration of Intent. The aim is to expand research cooperation, facilitate language learning and intercultural dialogue, strengthen collaboration in education and teacher training, and promote exchange between artists, school children, trainees, students and academics.
"It is incredibly important for school pupils to be able to exchange ideas with children and young people their age from other countries. They will benefit from these experiences in their own language learning as well as in terms of their school careers as a whole. These are encounters they will be able to draw on for the rest of their lives. The exchange is of course also invaluable for our teaching degree students who are invited to work in Scottish schools. I am therefore extremely pleased that we are intensifying our cooperation with our Scottish partners," said Rhineland-Palatinate Minister of Education, Dr. Stefanie Hubig.
Deputy First Minister of Scotland and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney, said: "I am very pleased that we have signed this agreement, which will help us further strengthen cooperation between Scotland and Rhineland-Palatinate in particular in the areas of education, language learning and culture. We look forward to working closely with Rhineland-Palatinate to develop a programme of cultural events and support the cultural and educational outreach work of the Scotland Hub at the University of Mainz.”
The lynchpin of Rhineland-Palatinate–Scotland relations is the Scotland Hub at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). As early as 1981, a Scotland focus was established at Mainz University; today, JGU maintains official partnerships with seven Scottish universities. Further cooperation is planned, especially in the field of teacher training. In research, the relationships extend across a wide range of disciplines and are particularly active in the humanities, law and physics. The Scotland Hub at JGU serves as a platform for Scottish culture in Germany, and the university last year appointed PD Dr. Sigrid Rieuwerts as its own "Scotland Commissioner". Many of the existing collaborative activities and projects can be attributed to her commitment. For example, she initiated the "GET-SET-GO" programme for student teachers, which sends German Educational Trainees from JGU as well as the University of Koblenz-Landau to Scottish schools as language assistants for one semester. In the field of culture there are also joint projects with the Rhineland-Palatinate Cultural Foundation, for example at the artists’s residences of Schloss Balmoral and Edenkoben, which offer residential fellowships to international artists and writers.
"Education, academia and culture all thrive on exchange. They are successful when people exchange ideas, discuss positions and learn from each other. I am therefore very pleased that we will be expanding our existing partnerships," said Professor Konrad Wolf, Rhineland-Palatinate Minister for Science, Further Education and Culture. "Exchange and cooperation with Scotland make our universities even more attractive. We can open up important perspectives here in research and teaching for our students, academics, and also for our artists."
Scottish Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Richard Lochhead, said: "I very much welcome this agreement, which will support intercultural exchange and help us to continue higher education and research cooperation with universities in Rhineland-Palatinate despite the challenges of Brexit. I am also delighted that the German Academic Exchange Service has selected Mainz University’s cooperation with Scotland as a model project for the internationalisation of teacher education."
In July 2019, initial talks between Rhineland-Palatinate and Scotland took place with the aim of intensifying the relationships between the two states. Organisational and content-related issues were discussed in subsequent meetings. In November 2019, Dr. Denis Alt, State Secretary at the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Science, Further Education and Culture, paid a first official visit to Scotland. At the invitation of the German Federal Foreign Office he spoke at the "GET-together" for German teachers in Scotland, a symposium hosted annually by Mainz University in Edinburgh. Ben Macpherson, the then Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development, attended on the Scottish side.
"The existing GET-SET-GO program is an excellent example of mutually beneficial cooperation," emphasized JGU President, Professor Georg Krausch. "The students at the participating schools in Scotland benefit from German lessons supported by young, dedicated native speakers, while our students gain valuable experience abroad and in teaching. They convey the German language, history and culture in a lively and authentic way and thus paint a modern picture of Germany, which in the best-case scenario can motivate Scottish pupils to participate in a school exchange or study in Germany."